Thailand Scams
December 7, 2017
10 minutes, 15 seconds Read

Thailand Scams: Tips For Avoiding These Tourists Traps When in Thailand

Thailand Scams

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Thailand Scams- A brief summary of what they are and how you can avoid them…

Thailand attracts so many visitors from all around the world and that is a universal fact. But how many exactly? 28,824,753 in 2017 to be precise. That’s a BIG number. But here is a better stat—Tourism contributes 12 trillion Thai Baht to Thailand’s economy, that’s 17.7 percent of the GDP. The global average for tourism revenue is 9 percent of GDP. All these numbers mean how popular Thailand is and how much tourism means to Thailand’s economy. But Bangkok has its problems especially the scams run by locals to cheat tourists. And if you’re planning a Thailand vacation, you must be aware of these scams

A list of Thailand Scams

1. Cheap Massage Scam:

What it is:

Massages and Bangkok are synonymous. You will see people roaming the streets advertising cheap massages on the pretext that business has been awful of late. They will then escort you to the shop and ask you to pay upfront as they have to return to look for more customers. Once the Massage is over, the masseuse will ask for payment. You will probably reply that you have already paid to the manager. They often reply with What or who manager? It will then dawn on you that you have been duped.

How to Avoid it: 

Simple, just do your research and go to reputable massage parlors. And if anyone asks for upfront payment, politely decline that.

2. Bird Food Scam

What it is:

Bird Scam? Really? Does a scam like this exist? It does in Thailand. You will see people with Bags of Bird food outside the Grand Palace feeding birds. Or they appear to be feeding birds. They look for unsuspecting foreign tourists and hand out the bird food to feed birds. If you fell for this and end up feeding birds, they will ask for the price of the food. And the amount is not small, they ask for exorbitant prices like a 100 Thai Baht.

How to Avoid it:

These scammers walk around stuffing bird food into random tourists’ hands. Stay alert and guard your ‘Precious’ hands!

3. ‘The Grand Palace is CLOSED’- Most Infamous Thailand Scam

What it is:

The biggest and most infamous scam and yet tourists fall for it. Grand Palace is one of the most exciting pieces of architecture in Bangkok and you’re bound to be excited to see it. A well-dressed person will approach you and say that the palace is closed today. And they will prove it to you as well. As there are two separate entrances for entry to Grand Palace. For locals and for foreigners. They will take you through the local entrance where the guard will stop you and they will mistranslate what the guard said. Then they will direct you to a different place which is open only once a year—apparently— and surprise, it is open today. Rather than taking you to the place, they will take you to a shop(part of this scam) or on a Tuk Tuk ride and you’re scammed into buying something or paying a higher price for the ride.

How to Avoid it:

The Grand Palace is open from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM. And you should research and take note of the official operating hours of all tourists attractions. Don’t trust a random stranger even if they look like an ‘angel’. Clarify from the official counter because some days it may be closed. And when it is, just visit some other day rather than go to a place that these scammers direct you to.

4. The Gem Scam

What it is:

An extension of the previous scam. The same Tuk Tuk Drivers or a random ‘kind’ stranger will come over to get you the deal of your life.  The drivers/random stranger will take you to another temple because you fell for the “Grand Palace is closed”. The deal ‘to buy exquisite and rare gems at wholesale rates’. They will claim that you can sell them for higher profit in your country. But guess what? This is an elaborate plan of the Tuk Tuk driver and this kind stranger. They have made this up and to prove their point, they will point to other tourists like you (all part of this trick). You end up buying worthless stones which you realize later when the shipment reaches you.

How to Avoid it:

There is no such deal. it is just another way to extort money from you. If there would be such a deal then why is this kind stranger sharing that with you? And there are no government-approved gem stores in Bangkok. JUST DON’T GO WITH THEM

5. The Tuk Tuk Scam

What it is:

The Tuk Tuk drivers will either use a long route to extract higher fare or they will just charge you a higher fare. They also rig the meter so that it works faster and hence extra charges. They also collaborate with other fraudsters like restaurant owners etc. So if you ask them to take you to an exquisite restaurant that has glorious reviews on some reputed sites, they will take you to a different one with a similar name. This will be a terrible place. These drivers get a commission for every customer.

How to Avoid it:

Never get on an unmetered taxi and don’t tell the driver your destination. Open Google maps and follow that. Observe what the fellow passengers are paying or ask them. Once you reach your destination, hand them that exact change

6. The FAKE Tourism Authority of Thailand

What it is:

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is the government agency that’s in charge of promoting Thailand as a tourist destination. So scammers use this Authority’s name for their seedy crimes. You will meet people posing as TAT officials in and around railway stations, bus stations etc. This scam involves fake TAT officials lying to tourists that the train is fully booked. So you will have to look for another option. They will direct you to a Taxi/Cab which will charge you higher fare as soon as you reach your destination.

Then there are tour operators who will claim to be government licensed or official. But they aren’t. This is all a scam to extort money from you

How to Avoid it:

TAT is a government entity; they do not operate any retail, tour, gem store, tailor shop or travel agencies. So if anyone claims to be operated by the government, they aren’t.

Some well-known scam agencies are Unseen Travel and Blue Asia Travelseeker, but the general sentiment is that it’s better not to do business with agencies in the Khao San Road area.

 7. The FAKE Police

What it is:

BE BRAVE. If you are not then all this will be scary. A policeman will approach you and check your passport and visa. Not a big deal. But wait, apparently the policeman is asking you to pay a fine on the spot because there is a problem with your visa. You may want to fight it out but there is that little thought what if all this is true and this ‘Person of Authority’ will put me in jail or something. And that’s exactly what they want. A lot of us will pay this fine to avoid any conflict.

The worse thing is, a real policeman may attempt to scam you with this trick as well!

How to Avoid it:

Refuse to pay and insist on settling the issue at a police station. It’s important to stand your ground in these situations – if you’re timid like us, just imagine all the Shibuya toasts you could eat with that fine money!

8. The Wrong Change

What it is:

Employees at stores like 7-11 and Family Mart in the major tourist hubs give you the wrong change on purpose. Sometimes they will slip in a fake note or two. This scam capitalizes on your’ lack of knowledge about Thai money.

How to Avoid it:

PAY ATTENTION. Always count your change before leaving the counter. Make sure to note the serial numbers of large value notes. It is a pain but better to suffer this pain than being robbed of your cash.

9. The laundry Scam

What it is:

Bangkok companies will lose your clothes—DELIBRATELY.

And then they will make up stories and pretend like they nothing of it. And as a gesture of goodwill, they will take you to a shop where you can purchase a decent but cheap replacement. But here is the catch—the shop owner is part of this elaborate plan. A part of the price tag is going to their pockets.

How to Avoid it:

Research and check reviews on sites like TripAdvisor etc. And prefer self-service laundry shops.

10 The Litter Scam

What it is:

If you litter around the Sukhumvit area, a policeman may stop you and even fine you for doing it. Then what is wrong with it, you may ask. Nothing to be honest except that the ‘policeman’ is FAKE. But the fine amount will be big enough to warrant an ATM trip and there is where all the fraud happens. As soon as you access your bank account, these frauds will gain access to your account and start taking out the money.

How to Avoid it:

JUST DON’T LITTER IN ANY COUNTRY. It is disgusting.

11. The Tailor Scam

What it is:

One of the most common Thailand scams. And the architects of this scam are—Tuk Tuk Drivers. Who else did you think? Tuk Tuk driver will take you to a tailor shop that sells designer suits for a cheap price or a friendly random stranger will offer you this value-for-money deal. And no one else but locals know of this amazing deal. If you end up buying/ordering this suit, you will realize why no one else but the locals know of it. No ‘FASHION DESIGNER’ on earth would design this suit that will have loose seams and barely any thread on it. This suit will definitely be not worthy of the price you paid.

How to Avoid it:

Never pay in cash when carrying out a big transaction, or better, ask to see the finished product first before you shell out Thai Bahts. But if they keep on insisting pay via a credit card or wire transfer because you will have the chance to get a refund. Or best option would be to not buy at all and not to take any stranger recommendations. DO YOUR RESEARCH, IT IS THE KEY.

Note: Two infamous scam tailor shops are Glorious Tailors and Voglee Export Tailors.

12. The Motorbike Scam

What it is:

So you rent a motorbike and a few hours later, it is stolen — by the same company that gave it on rent to you. No, we have not made it up. This actually happens in Bangkok. They will steal your bikes when it is parked and then you will have to pay for losing the vehicle.

How to Avoid it: 

Rent a bike but never leave important documents like passports and IDs as collateral for rental. Buy a bike lock and use that to secure the motorbike. Don’t use the one that the rental company gives you. A bike lock is much cheaper than paying for the ‘stolen’ vehicle.

Are there any other Bangkok scams that we haven’t covered in this article? Feel free to let us know!

 MOST IMPORTANT TIP:

Which currency should you take when traveling to Thailand?

The best option for you would be to Convert INR to USD here in India. It will be cheaper for you. Converting INR to Thai Baht in India, if Baht is available, will be very expensive. You can obtain USD for Interbank Rates + 0.5% surcharge with Bookmyforex.com. And you will be able to exchange USD to Baht in Thailand for the same margin. You’ll only end up paying 1% conversion charges. Never change currency at an Aiport as they literally rob you. Changing currency at an airport is an expensive proposition.

But if you are lucky enough to get INR to Thai Baht, it will be Interbank Rate + 5–6% conversion charges.

 

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